A lot of people assume they know what problem solving is. I have heard many opinions on what it is, stuff like: solving equations, fixing issues or making something better by offering new solutions. Personally, this isn’t my definition of problem solving. I prefer one that extends the idea that problems are perceptions that form in our mind which pattern our outward view of reality. In other words, problem solving really is about understanding mismatched expectations. There is a way things appear to us, through our thoughts and there is a way things really are. Problems are identified when we recognise something in our reality that troubles us. These are the things of ideology, thought, perception and culture. So what then is problem solving if it’s primarily related to perceptions? Before we can answer this, I want to argue for what problem solving is not.
Problem solving is NOT fixing something
I always hear that problem solving is when we fix something. I don’t agree. Problem solving involves the understanding and identification of a troubling issue. This comes from interpretations, perceptions and concepts that come from our heads. If the problem was a fixed point in time and space then we all would notice. Granted, there may be some issues like this. I am yet to find one that is perfectly perceived as being the same by all people at all times.
Problem solving is about ‘identification’
Consider this… what’s a problem you have now? Say it’s sore guts. The problem is sore guts. Now you have automatically identified the problem as well as the solution in one hit. What you are thinking about now is: what medicine can I take to solve my sore guts! Instead of doing that think about how you identified the problem in the first place. I see business people do this all the time. We aren’t getting any sales! Answer… we need to spend more money on advertising… bad choice. How do you know it’s not a poorly perceived sales letter (or something like that) that’s hindering you? Think about it.
What can you take out of this post
This: problem solving is not about fixing anything… it’s about recognising when you identify a problem you have by default defined any solution you are likely to use. This means, that you need to think carefully through your choices when you are looking to make decisions because they way in which you identify problems is the same process as ‘solving it’. For me, problem solving is identifying the issues and knowing that they contain ‘possible’ solutions NOT the solution. There is an art to this because we are all blinded by our perceptions.
Whatever problem you are facing right now, chances are you didn’t get there overnight. Sit back and think through what it was that made you get there. What decisions did you make because you thought you had ‘the’ answer? Look carefully at such things for in them lies the key to where you have made a wrong turn and if you can get back there you can switch tact and begin to improve your situation. Problem solving begins with understanding how your identified problems are related to what you think will solve it. If you can understand that, then you are on your way to a better life.
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